Mahalasa Narayani Devasthan, Goa

On every visit to Goa, in addition to visiting our kuladevata, Ramnathi Shanteri Kamakshi in Ponda, I visit a few other nearby temples as well. On this short visit to Goa, a kulavi of the Mahalasa Narayani Devasthan invited me to participate in the Palki on Sunday evening. I am so thankful for the invite and the visit to this beautiful temple. See also, Palki at the Ramnathi Devasthan.

This Sunday evening, the temple was packed with devotees and the Devi in her finery came out to tour the temple grounds. Beautiful experience. Devi Narayani getting ready in her palki.
pic of the Devi in palki at the Narayani Devasthan, Goa by Arun Shanbhag

Palki waiting for puja in front of the Shantadurga Devalaya
pics of the palki at the Mahalasa Narayani Devasthan, Goa by Arun Shanbhag

LaxmiNarayan and Shantadurga Devalaya on the grounds of the Narayani Devasthan.
picture of Shantadurga Temple at Narayani Devasthan, Mardol Goa by Arun Shanbhag

picture of the Laxminarayan Shantadurga Devalaya within the narayan i Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag


A few of my Posts Related to Konkani Temples in Goa:


Pālki at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān

photos of Ramnath and Kamakshi in Palki at Ramnathi Devasthan by Arun Shanbhag
Hindus believe that all things animate and in-animate (manifest or unmanifest) are part of the universal divine consciousness. We generally refer to this divine consciousness as “That”, because any attribute you give it is limiting (see Sant Tulsidas’ beautiful verse describing “That” divine consciousness; also this post on Dwija). In common parlance, we refer to “That” as Paramātmā or eternal soul (1). It thus follows that all humans are part of this eternal soul or Paramātmā. The corollary then is that Paramātmā too includes human qualities, strengths and frailties, and expresses human emotions. Purān and itihās (history) are filled with their anthropomorphed lore. In our temples, we adore our divine just like we would our valued guests. In the common Hindu puja, we pamper our divine guest with 16 services (shodasho upchār) like if she was a valued friend, like cleaning her feet, helping her brush, bathe, providing new clothes, jewelry, sumptuous feasts, etc.

Completing this anthropomorphization our temple bound deities like to go out on the town and have fun. Wouldn’t you if you were couped up in a tiny garbha-griha? Thus in many communities, devotees take their temple deities out for a ride in a specially designed pālki (palanquin) (2).

Every Monday evening at the Rāmnāthi Devasthān, Rāmnāth Dev sits in a pālki and is carried around the grounds. It’s a festive occasion with a small band playing and devotees chanting bhajans. Following tradition, the pālki has designated stops where aarti is performed and verses of the Mangalāshtak are chanted. Pālki is followed by a sumptuous prasād (yaay).

On special occasions, Rāmnāth Dev is accompanied by Kāmākshi Devi on his jaunt around the temple grounds. These pictures are from the recent Mahā Shivrātri when Rāmnāth and Kāmākshi went around the temple in their respective pālki (3) . While Rāmnāth sits in his simple pālki, Kāmākshi, verily the Goddess of Desire and Sensuality, tours in style, high on an elephant pālki. How cool is she?


Notes:
1. The word God doesn’t exist in Hindu vocabulary and is a Western construct.
2. In Mumbai you commonly see Muslims take their sacred deity out on the town; recently in Kumta, I noticed the local christians in a procession with their deity in a pālki.
3. Plural of pālki remains pālki and not the anglicized pālkis.

Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi

Photos of the Soda store owner at the Neeta Canteen by the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag

During Maha Shivratri, as I waited for a rickshaw outside the Ramnathi Devasthan, I shot pics of colorful soda bottles arrayed in crates. The hovering owner felt neglected and offers, “Maegel bhī photo kād” (take a pic of me too). I obliged. I loved the confident pose he struck in front of the red wall. You can imagine him in a previous avatār, curling his handlebar mustache and astride a horse. Quintessential Goa. For that, he gets the opening pic. Continue reading “Pyāsā – Soda at Rāmnāthi”

MahāShivrātri at Rāmnāthi

Photos of MahaShivaratri Festival at Ramnathi Goa by Arun Shanbhag
Ramnath Dev being taken out on a Phalki

|| Om Namah Shivay ||
Wishing you all an auspicious Maha Shivratri


More on the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa:


Enjoy these pictures from the Maha Shivratri Utsav at Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa

Buddha’s Tooth, Peter’s Bones and Jesuit Pope’s Hypocrisy

pic of Buddha from the RijksMuseum posted by Arun ShanbhagCirca 1560 CE
Portuguese forces based in Goa, India, raided the town of Jaffnapatam, Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). They looted the temples and pagodas and torched the town. One of the items they stole was a reliquary containing a tooth of Buddha – the Enlightened One.

The Buddhist community was distraught and the King of Pegu (present day Myannmar) sent an ambassaor to Goa and offered to pay an astronomical ransom of 300,000 – 400,000 cruzados for the return of the sacred relic. The Portuguese Viceroy of Goa, Constantino de Braganza was inclined to accept the ransom and return the tooth. He argued it would help with the States needs. Strenuous discussion between the political and religious groups, primarily the Jesuit priests took place in Goa during the spring of 1561. Continue reading “Buddha’s Tooth, Peter’s Bones and Jesuit Pope’s Hypocrisy”

Murals by Mario at Madgaon Train Station

pictures of Murals by Mario at Madgaon Station, Goa by Arun Shanbhag

I am a creature of habit. On every visit to Goa, I follow a similar routine. First I commune with our kuldevata at the Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan in Ponda, then I may get a cup of Chai or two at the local canteen. Perhaps visit the nearby Mahalakshmi Devasthan and the Mangeshi Devasthan; and after aarti and a quick lunch, I head over to the Madgaon Train Station to catch the 2:30 Verna-Mangalore local train to Kumta. If I arrive early, I amble around the stalls and watch people – they appear meditative in their idleness. And take one more look at the Mario murals. Continue reading “Murals by Mario at Madgaon Train Station”

Bookseller in Goa

shyamsundar desai bookseller mardol goa Arun Shanbhag
With M & m in Mumbai, I stay at work longer, workout harder and run further. With friends, I laze around more; that means less blogging. But I want to share this beautiful pic of a bookseller I met in Goa.

We were on our way back to the Ramnathi Devasthan after visiting some Konkani temples. On the rural stretch, the driver pulled over to a roadside bookstall for a newspaper. I followed, wondering if here in the heart of Konkani Goa, I could find some of our Hindu scriptures. For long I wanted a “loose-leaf” version of the Devi Mahatmyam – the popular scripture detailing the genesis of the mother goddess, Devi. The kind used by priests for parayaN (chanting) in temples.

Here, a priest at the Ramnathi Devasthan recites the Devi Mahatmyam from a loose-leaf manuscript. Continue reading “Bookseller in Goa”

Chai Time Two

photo of Chai Time at Ramnath Devasthan Goa by Arun Shanbhag

After Dhool Bhaet at the Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan, I walked around heavenly rice fields and stopped by the canteen outside the temple for a cup of Chai. Next to me, this gentleman savored his morning cup. He poured it in the saucer, lifted the saucer to his lips and slurped. Continue reading “Chai Time Two”

Goa: Visiting Ramnathi

Pictures of Rice fields at Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa by Arun Shanbhag
After celebrating Meera’s birthday, I make a quick, day trip to visit our Kuladevata (family temple) at the Ramnathi Devasthan in Goa.
The early morning flight brought me to Ramnathi at the crack of dawn. The temple was open and I paid my respects to Ramnath as “Dhool bhaet”.

From my earlier post on the Ramnathi Devasthan

It is the tradition at Ramnathi and other Konkani temples, for kulavis to visit the deity as soon as we arrive – even before we wash our feet. We leave our footwear at the door and with dusty feet rush inside to pay homage to our father protector, guardian and closest confidant. Akin to the return of a prodigal son (or daughter); our father wants to see us ASAP, even before we wash our feet. This first visit is thus called “dhool bhaet” (dusty meeting). Only after we have visited the temple, do we visit the office, rent a room, freshen up and come back into the temple for a proper service.

This early, the office was still closed. So camera in hand, I walked across the road to a series of rice fields (see picture above). The early morning light bathed them in an ethereal glow. I felt my burdens lifted: This is the life! I could spend the rest of our days here, and Meera and M would love it here Continue reading “Goa: Visiting Ramnathi”

Mahalakshmi Temple, Goa

Opening Pic: Maha Mandap (Great Hall) at the Mahalakshmi Temple, Goa

The Mahamandap (Great Hall) at the Mahalakshmi Temple in Bandivade, Goa provides a therapeutic escape from many of Goa busy attractions. It is a perfect place to sit undisturbed and commune with the divine. On this early morning, regular devotees went about their prayers silently and tourist laden buses had not yet arrived.

In front of the Deul (Konkani for Temple, also Devasthan), notice the Deepa Stamba (Light tower), a characteristic of Goa Konkani temples. Around the temple are guest rooms for traveling devotees at nominal costs.

photos of Mahalakshmi Temple in Goa by Arun Shanbhag
Deepa Stamba (Light Tower) in front and the Tulsi Vrindavan on the side

History of the Temple: Continue reading “Mahalakshmi Temple, Goa”

Sacred Places

pic of Dev Bara Karo at the Madgaon Train Station by Arun Shanbhag

It is sad that in India, places of worship are being targeted to achieve political ends, or vent frustrations. This is absolutely wrong! Temples, churches, mosques, and all other places of worship are sacred and should not be pawns in political movements. People should feel empowered to use objective fora to address grievances. Politicians! Make it happen and stop using these incidents to advance narrow political gains!

In an attempt to address the grievances, the Karnataka state government blames “the flow of foreign funds,” for conversion of Hindus into Christianity.
Continue reading “Sacred Places”

Portuguese Inquisition and Revisionism

Due to my heritage and interest in Konkani Temples in Goa, and particularly our Kuldevata Ramnathi Devasthan I have been researching books on the Portuguese occupation in Goa. During the Portuguese Inquisition lasting more than 150 years (1560 – 1812), the Jesuits made a systematic attempt at wiping out the Konkani heritage in Goa. Konkanis were either tortured and killed, forced to convert, or give up their lands and migrate. In a desperate attempt at genocide, all Konkani temples in older Goa were ransacked, wealth stolen and destroyed. It was the men-of-the cloth, who spread the horrors of the Inquisition, and later Anglicans who put political pressure on the Portuguese forcing it to end the Inquisition.

I have tracked scores of such books from the 18th and 19th century which shed a grim light on the atrocities of the Portuguese, all in the name of their God. In the midst of an enormous amount of historical literature, there are always the revisionists, trying to cast a softer glow on the Portuguese Inquisition. This one by an ordained priest takes the cake.

A few lines from his work and my related comments.
An Historical Sketch of Goa, Rev. Denis L. Cottineau de Kloguen (DK)
Gazette Press, Madras (1831), Reprinted pp 44-45
Also available digitized from the Library at Harvard College, Cambridge, MA; Pg 69 – 70.

Original text in italics is contiguous in one paragraph; my comments are in regular text. In this paragraph, the Kloguen is trying to defend the Archbishop D Alexins de Menezes.

DK – … Some acts of violence by the Portuguese agents may have been committed, both before and after him, but they are not to be imputed to him.
AS – Really! Everyone else is to blame, but not the Archbishop who actually had more power in Goa than the political appointee?

DK – It is equally false, that, followed by the officers of the Inquisition, he went armed with fire and sword, to compel the inhabitants of Salsette to embrace the Christian religion. The Jesuits converted a great part of them by the usual and most laudable means;
AS – Reminded me of the recent controversial remarks by Pope Benedict 16th: (from the NY Times) “… in Brazil, … native populations had been “silently longing” for the Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers.” The Rev is probably alluding to such an “innate longing” for torture and death.

DK – but in order as they thought, the better to detach the remainder of the inhabitants from worship of idols, they destroyed all the temples and pagodas.
AS – Much to the embarrassment of the Jesuits, many forced converts continued to visit temples and kept to their traditional Hindu ways. The only way to prevent this was to destroy the temples. How many is “all”? How many temples were destroyed in Goa?

DK – This however, had the contrary effect; and the Pagans, exasperated at this circumstance, rose up in arms, murdered five jesuits, and several Portuguese.
AS – Did the Jesuits really expect anything else? Note the choice of the word “murdered” when associated with the Jesuits and the Portuguese. BTW, when “all temples and pagodas” were destroyed, how many of the locals were killed? Smoothly overlooked. And really, when armed men go in and destroy peoples temples, wouldn’t you expect an equally violent response?

DK – The Governor then felt himself obliged to use arms likewise to reduce the rebels; and of course did not after wards permit the temples to be rebuilt.
AS – “reduce the rebels” here is an euphemism for “massacring the population”! And since when did the locals become the “rebels” in their own lands? Don’t the ‘rebels’ have the right to defend their lands, home and temples?

DK – But in all this, the Archbishop had nothing to do, and what is certainly better proved, are the good works and the pious establishments of Goa, of which he is the founder.
AS – Looks like he is an ideal candidate for sainthood, no?



My Posts Related to the Ramnathi Devasthan and other Konkani Temples:


Colva Beach – Serenely Beautiful

Colva Beach Goa sunset pics by Arun Shanbhag
On our visit to India in June, we paid a short visit to Goa. Starting on the early morning flight from Mumbai and after visiting the Ramnathi Devasthan, we arrived at the beach-front resort in Colva, early in the afternoon. We were so fatigued, both of us promptly fell asleep. The drumming of the heavy rains outside pushed us deeper in sleep. On waking up around 5 pm, and a leisurely coffee, we ambled onto the beach. The rains had stopped but the skies were still overcast.
Continue reading “Colva Beach – Serenely Beautiful”

Chai Time

Pics of two guys drinking chai at Kamakshi Canteen Ramnathi Temple Goa Arun Shanbhag

After performing the Lagu Rudra abhishek, an honor accorded the Kulaviis at the Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan, I sneak away to the canteen beside the front entrance. They make the best missal and ussal paav. As I gorge myself, I notice these two guys on a chai break. Both were caught up in their own thoughts and did not utter a single word to each other. Prolly none were needed. Their mere presence supported each other. Continue reading “Chai Time”

Here is Colva Beach Goa!

After blazing a trail through mumbai, goa, austria and switzerland, we returned a few hours ago to an oppressively hot and dusty house. But I so look forward to sleeping in my own bed. Traveling is fun, but living out of a suitcase and washing underwear in hotel sinks, does get tiring after a while.

During this two and half week holiday, I checked my e-mail twice. Sorry, I haven't replied to all the birthday wishes – will get to it soon. And will catch-up with your lives as well. Hopefully, I didn't miss anything important.

In the meantime, a quick jhalak of Colva Beach, Goa! It was overcast all day and rained in the afternoon. But as the sun set, the clouds broke and we were treated to this beautiful vista. It was a rare relaxing day on this trip. Enjoy!

Young Couple on Konkan Railway

Less than 24 hours after reaching Mumbai, we left for Goa on the Konkan Railway to visit our kuladevata Ramnathi Devasthan and attend my nephew's Upanayana. The night ride is ideal for catching-up on gossip with cousins. Their wives (and M too), are fast asleep and we chat away in peace. Pics from our our earlier Konkan Railway trip.

When daylight streaked the sky, the train had stopped at Ratnagiri. There this couple boarded, with an unusually large retinue to see them off. As the train raced towards Goa, I chatted with the guy. Generally I asked and he answered. I wanted to know everything about them. He was evasive, but I persisted. Finally he relented, giggled and confessed they were on their honeymoon to Goa!

Later as she dozed off on his lap, they struck a cute pose.
Arun Shanbhag Konkan Railway
As she dreamt of a beautiful life ahead, he seemed preoccupied! With what, I wondered!

See this video of the view from the train: Video: Approaching Kumta

A closer-up.
Arun Shanbhag Konkan Railway

Basilica of Bom Jesus


From my last trip to Goa. The beautiful Basilica of Bom Jesus in Panji.

The inside of the church. There was a small private service going on.

The crypt with the remains of Francis Xavier

The building across the street. The Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi. Part of it has been converted to an Archaelogical Museum. The Tower on the right is part of the Se Cathedral, behind it.

Mangeshi Devasthan, Goa

This follows a longer write-up on the Ramnathi Devasthān.

The Mangeshi Devasthān in Goa is a crown jewel of Konkani Temples. The an-iconic form of Shiva, the linga representing Mangesh, was originally in the ancient temple of Kushastali (Cortalim, Salcete Taluka). When the Portuguese destroyed the original temple in 1561, the linga was relocated across the Zuari River near other konkani temples. The current temple was constructed on land donated by a devotee in the mid- 1800’s and has been renovated several times.

Continue reading “Mangeshi Devasthan, Goa”

Cucumber Seller Smiles

photos of a woman selling cucumbers at the Mangeshi Temple Goa by Arun Shanbhag

Outside the Mangeshi Devasthan in Goa, this lady sold sliced cucumbers. It's a refreshing snack on a hot day. As I composed the pic, I fretted about this guy walking across, but then I noticed her face light up at an approaching customer. For her brilliant smile, and inviting pose, she deserved a post of her own.

photos of a woman selling cucumbers at the Mangeshi Temple Goa by Arun Shanbhag

Goa Snippets

When in India last September, I made a short trip to visit our ancestral temple Ramnathi Devasthan near Ponda, Goa. The early morning flight reached Goa before 8:00. Enroute to the temple I saw this quintessential Goan field, and had the driver stop. It was a partly cloudy day and the overnight rains had soaked through.

And to the right, this!

And turning back on the road, this!

This tiny store is across from the Ramnathi Temple. Even as a kid, I remember this “Maama” (uncle in konkani) tending this store. Years ago, it was a tiny metal box about 4 feet across, now he has a much larger, sturdy laterite construction. I make a beeline for those bananas, still hanging on the ghadaay. You pluck which ever you want. Reminded me of my abbu's home in Bhatkal. Such ghadaay were always hanging in the veranda, and as we kids ran by, we'd pluck one and feed the skin to the cows. Such fun!

Here's a close crop. Pick one.

© 2005 Arun Shanbhag

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